Michelle Wildgen of the Madison Writers’ Studio begins each class, “What are you reading?” My latest three were recommendations from a historical mysteries book club, a comment on my Pandemic blog post, and a Facebook friend respectively.
• In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. A novel of spies, class, romance, and mystery in World War II England. I hadn’t previously heard of the “land girls” sent to the countryside for wartime farm labor, or of Nazi proposals to restore the former King Edward VIII to the British throne.
• The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. A riveting history of London’s 1854 cholera epidemic, on every scale from microbe to metropolis, and the pioneering epidemiologist who figured out how it spread. The book grabbed me from page one with the night scavengers who recycled the bones, rags, and excrement of Dickensian London.
• The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult by Jerald Walker. Powerful memoir of a Chicago kid in the 1970s, raised to expect the end of the world before he reaches his teens. His parents are blind, his God wrathful, his classmates puzzled. To his secret shame, Jerry wishes he could just be a normal boy.
What are you reading?
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.